Planning a wedding is not the same as planning your next Thanksgiving dinner. It’s very much like an intimate event, one that is very wide and extensive in scope like in concerts or product launches, but would only concern you, your partner, and your closest family and friends as guests. However, instead of just simply handling the planning, you tend to think more for your wedding. After all, it’s a special day for you and your partner.
For now, let us view wedding planning as event planning. In planning any event, we must have a timeline. From there we would base all activities concerning the wedding. The timeline must be consistently followed as it is the only time you have got after your engagement and before the actual wedding. There are three phases in a wedding planning timeline, and a fourth phase which is for the wedding day.
The first phase is the Dreaming period. Note that the terms here are not really the actual trade terms. They’re just coined for you to get an idea. It’s the Dreaming period because this is the time where you just get to plan. The initial planning runs through after the engagement (ideally 14 or 12 months) until the 9th month before the wedding. In this phase you should be able to plan the following.
- Guests; and
- Theme and style of the wedding
- Date of the wedding
At this point, you can only estimate the budget and the number of guests. You don’t have yet the actual figures because you don’t know who can attend the wedding or how much the wedding cost in general. This phase is very important as you should be able to determine the theme of your wedding, the style of the dresses as well as the actual wedding date. The entirety of your wedding plan would be based on the theme that you would choose and the date that you would set. Also included in this first phase are the following:
- Contact preliminary service providers like photographers, videographers, bands and/or DJ’s.
- For brides, start your dress search.
- Start hotel reservations, if needed. If you have out-of-town guests, this would be a much appreciated gesture. Just coordinate with them where they can stay and what date would they be able to come.
- If you need help in planning the wedding, now is also the time to hire a wedding planner.
- Get ideas from newspapers and magazines. Make cut-outs and start your own wedding notes or binder for your own stash of wedding ideas.
The second phase is the Let’s-Start-Working Period. After you have planned extensively, you now have to start working on those plans. This period runs from the 8th month until the 6th month before the wedding day. If you have started working on the Dreaming period, then now is the time to actually move from and about places to make them happen.
The most important thing that you need to accomplish for this period is to get the other players for this wedding. This includes the first wave of contracted service providers like photographers, caterers, bridal makeup stylists, as well as the people involved in the wedding like the bridesmaids, ring bearers, etc. You must contact them in person to plan what their involvement in the wedding is. While this is easy for family or friends who’ll be playing a role in the ceremony, you will need to talk business with wedding service providers. With them, you need to accomplish the following.
- Venue is very important. Settle reservations with a venue. As much as possible, pick the dates when there’s not a rush of other wedding couples. This means you have to blacklist June and September. Some venues offer discounts for off-peak season weddings.
- With photographers, establish the time and the date for your photo shoot. Discuss the details of the photo shoot that you want. Don’t forget to negotiate the prices when needed.
- With caterers, discuss the food plan of your wedding. It’s better if you can get specialty caterers for your chosen food plans. Talk over how the reception flow would go, and how the caterers would provide additional services like table setting and waiting services.
- With florists, discuss what flowers would be in season for your chosen wedding date. Note that you’re planning these more than four months ahead of your wedding. If today is summer, then your wedding date must be autumn. Mull over details like flower arrangements or guest corsages.
- You also need to talk to technical equipment providers for your lighting or sound systems if you’ll be having an outdoor wedding. However, the venue you would be reserving may have technical equipment, so just talk with them as to who would be tasked to arrange it. Also settle any electrical wiring plans to avoid any untoward incidents concerning electricity.
Within this period, you also need to accomplish the following:
- Book an officiating judge or priest.
- Book venues for rehearsal wedding ceremonies or reception.
- Send out RSVP’s to your guests. Very important note.
The third and last phase is the Final Period. It’s the final phase because it runs from the 5th month to the week before the wedding. However, it’s also Final period because everything that you have to do here is the finalization of the plans you’ve made with service providers, finalization of the guest list, and the finalization of the dresses. You’ve planned in the first phase, set the ball running in the second phase, and in this third and last phase you just need to direct it into the right goal, which is the wedding date. During this period, you must accomplish the following:
- Finalize plans with caterers, make-up stylists, officiating authorities, and dress makers.
- Finalize the guest list.
- Finalize the guest seating plan.
- Pour over on the little printed details like the guestbook, place cards, etc.
- Plan your honeymoon.
- Send out dresses for the bridesmaids.
- Rent or buy the tux for your groom. For the bride, do the dress fittings so alterations can be made in case.
- Buy the wedding rings.
- Finalize the entrée.
- Prepare contingency plans for guest seating, food or other concerns.
- Pamper yourself.
On the wedding day itself, you only need to remember to relax, pamper yourself early, and have a great big smile. Twelve or fourteen months prior to this you have planned your wedding extensively, and if this goes well, you deserve this very wonderful wedding occasion.